Blog Post

How to go PC free with iOS 5 and your iPhone or iPad

One big advantage of iOS 5 (s aapl) is the ability to use it independently of a Mac or PC. Ironic, since another key new feature is iCloud, which serves to bring the two closer together at the same time. Here’s how to cut the cord if you’d rather your mobile devices and traditional computers live separate (but connected) lives.

Device updated? Good. Now unplug and walk away.

Once you’ve completed the iOS 5 update, you no longer need to be connected to iTunes at all. For anything. No, really. It may be hard for a longtime Apple mobile user to wrap their head around, but all the business of setting up, activating and other initial duties can be handled away from the computer. This does come with a couple caveats, however:

  1. Your music needs to be managed either via Apple’s new iCloud past purchases library, or through some another app/service like Spotify. Unless you enable caveat #2.
  2. You can turn on Wi-Fi Sync, which keeps cables out of the mix and allows you to sync music, apps and photos to your computer, but still makes you somewhat reliant on the computer. This isn’t necessary if you’re a purist, though.

Set up on the device itself

Apple now lets you navigate the entire process of getting your iPad or iPhone set up with helpful intro screens on the device itself. This looks much like what happens when you first set up a new installation of Mac OS X. You can see the whole process from start to finish in the gallery below.

Use iCloud for syncing and backups

Sign in to iCloud using the Apple ID of your choice, and then set up syncing as well as iCloud backup. This will ensure that your contacts, calendars reminders and other info are always stored safely on Apple’s servers in case of a catastrophic failure on your device which necessitates a full restore. It could also come in handy if you have multiple devices, since it keeps info in sync between each.

Choose apps that supply direct access to media

One of the hardest parts of keeping your device completely untethered to your computer could be keeping it stocked with a healthy supply of media. But these days, you have lots of good options. There are streaming music services like Rdio and Spotify for your auditory enjoyment, as well as downloads of past purchases from the iTunes music store itself. If your needs are less specific, try something like TuneIn Radio for access to free, streaming Internet radio feeds.

Google+ (s goog) can help you keep your mobile photos backed up on the web, and offerings like Netflix(s nflx) and Hulu will make sure you always have access to streaming video content. Grabbing an app like Azul Media Player will let you download video files from various sources on the web and play them back when you don’t have web access. Again, you can also always make purchases directly from the iTunes Store.

Give that computer a break

For many users, once an iPad or iPhone is set up according to the steps above, there will be little reason to even turn on the computer ever again, at least for personal purposes. And thanks to the changes made by Apple, the only time you should need to plug your iOS device in is when it needs charging.

6 Responses to “How to go PC free with iOS 5 and your iPhone or iPad”

  1. Darrell, I’ve upgraded my pad and phone to iOS5 but not my 4 year old Mac (to Lion). Why don’t my contact lists match on those devices since I’m backing up to the cloud?
    And, why did all my music disappear off the phone/pad (I know about the apps)?
    Also, I notice that when I force a sync, new app updates don’t migrate to the devices unless I downloaded them to my Mac. Whazzupp?
    Thanks, Bob

    • you must have lion on your computer for the cloud to sync with your computer, that is why contacts or your calendar won’t sync. The cloud syncs between iphone and ipad but not a computer without lion installed.

  2. Billy Abernathy

    So what about podcast’s? Is there a way to subscribe other than itunes on the computer? I have not found a way to sync these files over wifi without manually adding each.

    • There’s apps for that! ‘Downcast’ is the best one I’ve found, but there are lots more. You can stream or download, listen, and delete.
      I don’t even use iTunes for podcasts anymore. :)